Remember when Matthew Fox was the canvas on which you painted your dreams? It was the mid-nineties and you were a pre-teen and he really understood you because you both took yourselves VERY VERY SERIOUSLY?
Then remember when you were watching the first season of Lost, and you expected to feel that same kind of magic, but his same Foxiness now came off as bossy and humorless and like No-Funtown? And then you saw his mugshot and realized that if your taste in people hadn’t matured over the years, you’d be one of those people who cries on their lunch break every day because life is so heavy?
I think I came about The Mad Fox from a very different perspective, as a guy who grew up in the 90s and didn’t want to watch a show like Party Of Five, and didn’t actually obsess over JLH (remember her spin off?) or the others, but did find it interesting where they landed post-Part Of Five. And then Matthew Fox had a show (briefly) on the UPN where he was a cop who saw ghosts or something or other, and I thought, well, it looks like Fox isn’t going to go anywhere. And then they cast him in Lost and I thought that was a really curious decision because whenever I caught a bit of him in Party Of Five, his tendency was to go big, to go very broad, to go proto-Jackface. And I thought that Lost was such a weird conjured thing, a script with a crazy premise thrown together in mere days, actors threw in not because of good parts for them (yet) but because the producers liked them, and so very expensive. And I thought that placing Matthew Fox, this kind of crazy melodramatic seeming guy at the center was gutsy, risky, and a bit nuts.
And just think, they originally wanted Michael Keaton to have the Jack part on Lost.
And I was right, Matthew Fox did all of those things that I knew he was going to do. He saw heights above and beyond the character and he went there. Hence things like Jackface. I mean, he played the character like a normal guy who sometimes who goes incredibly unhinged. And it was brilliant. So much of where the show went after it’s first season was so clearly driven by Matthew Fox’s performance. In fact, at the end of the third season, the big “game changer” reveal that we’re no longer just flashing back, we’re now also motherfucking flashing forward, the very conceit that allowed that to happen with the depictions of Jack’s slow and then not so slow descent into pathetic pill-addled depression was all taken there by Fox’s peformance over the years.
But I’m making it sound like Fox has played the Jack character as solely crazy or out of his mind. And he has, he really has, but not just that. Remember back in season 1, the first real Jack episode, whichever one it was (though I believe it was “White Rabbit”) when in the flashback, little Jack is being held down while a bully beats up his friend only to be told that if he tries to get up, said bully will only beat him down? And that’s exactly what happens. Throughout the entire show. And through that Fox has brought something new to manliness in a beautiful synergy with the writing of this show: He’s brought the wounded heart of a man, a leading man who will just stop and sit down and cry. And let the floodgates open. And look up to you, vulnerable, knowing he’ll probably get hit again, and ready for it.
I think the instinct there would have been to say “a man who’s not afraid to cry,” which, of course, is a cliche, and in this case, not accurate. Being brave or being afraid doesn’t seem to come into the make up of the character. There’s a total lack of being self concious about how he’s percieved. He’s a damaged guy fumbling towards trying to make a difference and maybe very naively feels like he can find salvation in the arms of a woman who’s just like him, so much so that he’s willing to nuke an entire reality for just the smidgen of a chance to be with her on a more equal playing field.
That might be me channeling thoughts left over from Uncertainty and my recent viewing of (500) Days Of Summer, I don’t know.
Anyway, before I conclude this ramble, let me just say that one day at work I did this very Jack thing, for fun, where every time someone talked to me I’d not really face them, but only kind of half face them, half turned towards them. And any time anyone would really address me or sass me, before I’d respond, I’d either look down (old school George Clooney style) or look off to the side, smile wildly as if I was gathering up steam, drawing in energy from my surroundings, crazy Jack-style, and then look at them, eyes wide with madness and respond: “I’ll go get some more paper for the printer and possibly another toner!” Or, you know, whatever.
That said, since the start of Lost, Fox has appeared in three prominent movies that I can think of off the top of my head: We Are Marshall, Speed Racer, and whatever the fuck that movie was with Dennis Quaid and all the different perspectives on an attempted presidential assassination. I haven’t seen any of them. We Are Marshall is a movie I’ll probably never see because, well, come on, but I’d like to see the other two. The one with Dennis Quaid looked dumb but interesting enough to watch until Benjamin Light ruined the ending for me (want to know who the bad guy is?)(it ties into where I’ve been going with all of this, I swear), and Fox is Racer X in Speed Racer, right? The villain. That’s brilliant. I’m dying to see where Fox’s career goes now, post-Lost. It’s something I’m excited about even though I know that now that he has a family and probably plenty of money, he’ll probably start winding it down. But where it could go could be anywhere. I feel like he’s gained a newfound versatility, a dangerous energy of his own uncertainty. That Milk ad is so perfect. “They don’t notice me yet, but I’ve been drinking milk…” Also, is it February 2 yet?